Interviewed By Steven F. Crane
12 March 2013
Oral History Program
Weber State University
Steven F. Crane
12 March 2013
Copyright © 2013 by Weber State University, Stewart Library
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Kamaya, James, an oral history by Steven F.
Crane, 12 March 2013, WSU Stewart Library
Oral History Program, University Archives,
Stewart Library, Weber State University,
March 12, 2013
Abstract: James Kamaya participated in an interview with Steve Crane of the Ogden
Rotary Club on March 12, 2013 to share his experiences as an Army veteran.
Drafted in 1951, James served in both the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War
and retired from the Army after 21 years of military service.
SC: This is the fifth session of the 2013 Ogden Rotary Club and Weber State
University Veteran’s History Project held March 12, 2013 at the George E.
Whalen Ogden Veteran’s Home. I’m Steve Crane, a member of the Ogden
Rotary Club and I will be conducting this interview. Also present are Stacie
Gallagher from Weber State University and my wife, Donna Crane. Our guest at
this session is James Kamaya. We are going to be talking about his military
history. James, you were in the Army and you said you joined in 1952. How did
you end up joining the Army? Were you drafted or did you enlist?
JK: I was drafted in 1951.
SC: Where did you receive your training?
SC: How long were you there?
JK: I was there about eight months for basic training.
SC: Where did they send you after that?
JK: I went to Korea.
SC: So you served in the Korean Conflict?
SC: Who were you under? Who was your leader?
JK: MacArthur. He was the overall general of the Korean Conflict.
SC: Did you see combat?
JK: Well, it depends on what you call combat.
SC: Were you in close contact with the North Koreans?
JK: Our units were sent to meet them.
SC: They were the aggressors?
JK: Right. They were the aggressors.
SC: Did you come in close contact with the North Koreans?
JK: We could see them eye-to-eye, so I don’t know if you’d call that close contact or
SC: Were you ever wounded?
JK: I ran faster than the bullets.
SC: So they couldn’t hit you, you were too quick?
JK: I had fast feet.
SC: How many different battles were you involved in?
JK: A few.
SC: How close would you be? Were you within 100 yards of the enemy or hand-to-hand
JK: We would be within 100 yards.
SC: They were shooting at you and you were shooting at them I assume.
JK: Yes. They had a hard time shooting at me because I was running too fast. When
you run as fast as I was running, you don’t know who’s shooting who.
SC: What was it like when you were in combat?
JK: It’s not the best place to be.
SC: How long were you in combat?
JK: I was in the Korean War for 13 months and I was in the Vietnam War.
SC: You were in Vietnam also? Did you come in close contact with the Vietcong?
JK: Yes, I went over with the 25th Division. It was a well-known outfit. There was a
captain and a lieutenant colonel, both of them became four star generals.
General Vessey became the chairman chief of staff.
SC: How long were you in Vietnam?
JK: I don’t recall how long, but it wasn’t very long.
SC: Were you there at the end when Saigon fell and America pulled out?
SC: Did you have any memorable experiences in the Korean War or Vietnam that
you’d like to share with us?
JK: There’s no war that’s easy to say because all wars are alike. People get
wounded in war, so there’s no way of describing war.
SC: It’s not a very fun experience. Did you make some close friends in either of the
wars you were in?
JK: I had some, but I didn’t associate too much with soldiers.
SC: Have you remained close with them since?
JK: No, I haven’t.
SC: Do you feel like your service has changed your life? You were in the service for
21 years. What did you do after that?
JK: I went to work with the telephone company.
SC: What did you do for the telephone company?
JK: I was working in the installation.
SC: How long have you been retired?
JK: I retired from the service and from the telephone company.
SC: Tell us about your family. Is your wife still with you?
JK: As far as I know. When you get our age, you don’t know who’s with whom.
SC: Is she still alive?
JK: Last time I heard she was still alive.
SC: Do you have children?
JK: If you could call 50-year-olds children, I guess I do.
SC: How many do you have?
JK: Between me and my wife, we’ve got two.
SC: Do you have any grandchildren?
JK: We’ve got a granddaughter.
SC: Do they live nearby?
JK: They live in California.
SC: Does your wife live nearby?
JK: No. She lives in Arizona.
SC: Is there anything you’d like to tell us about your experience in Korea or Vietnam
that would be interesting for us to hear about?
JK: Well, the only thing I can tell you about it is I’m lucky to know that there was such
a place. As far as remembering anything, I don’t remember a thing. Some things
you want to forget.
SC: You don’t want to relive.
SC: Well, thank you for spending time with us today. We appreciate your service in
Korea and Vietnam. We civilians have a debt of gratitude to the men and women
who have served in the various wars. Most of our interviews have been with folks
that have served in World War II, but it’s very interesting to me to talk to you who
served in Korea and Vietnam. Vietnam was kind of my generation. If I’d been
drafted I would have gone to Vietnam. A lot of my friends served in Vietnam.
When you came back from Vietnam did you feel like you were held in high regard
as a veteran of Vietnam?
JK: They didn’t get as much credit as they should have got. There’s no war that is
equal, but they’re all the same.
SC: It seemed like having lived through the Vietnam War, it was especially unpopular,
so veterans from Vietnam didn’t get the same treatment as other veterans.
JK: The Americans wanted to forget there was such a word as “war.”
SC: Right. Well, thank you for coming here. We really do appreciate your time today.
We appreciate your service. I really appreciate men and women that have served
in the military and stood in harm’s way for our benefit and for America. We really
appreciate you coming.
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